Monrovia – The Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission (LERC) has issued six separate licenses to the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) after the nation’s premier energy supplier met all of the criteria for licensing.
The licenses issued include ‘Generation’ for existing hydro and thermal plants; ‘Transmission’ for operating the high voltage networks; Distribution- given for operating the low voltage networks; System Operation, awarded for the independent coordination and control of flow of power & energy on Liberia’s Interconnected Transmission System (LITS); and ‘Import’ – for importing electricity through existing cross border lines.
Speaking during the certification ceremony on Tuesday, LERC Chairman, Dr. Lawrence D. Sekajipo said the LEC is required by law to obtain a license for all aspects of its operations, and has duly complied by completing the license application processes. The exercise, he said, is in line with the 2015 Electricity Law of Liberia and the Regulations which allow an entity to engage in more than one Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) activity, but such entity must obtain a license for each of the distinct activities for which a license is required.
He said while the attention of the world is riveted on these developments in Liberia’s electricity supply industry, the expectations of Liberians with respect to accessing reliable, affordable, and stable electricity is high.
He declared that Liberia is open for the critical investment required to cover the infrastructural deficit within the electricity sector, and revealed that the Commission, as the regulatory authority, is currently developing the Tariff Regulations and the technical codes which will further define the rules for ensuring smooth operation and the sustainability of the sector.
He said: “What the Commission and consumers require of LEC is – adequacy in generation; grid resilience; distribution equipment reliability and enhanced customer service, which are prerequisites for instilling investor and consumer confidence in the electricity supply industry. It is the Commission’s expectation that LEC will transit quickly towards achieving these goals within the established targets and benchmarks”.
He thanked the Government of Liberia, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCA) and Millennium Challenge Account Liberia (MCA-L), as well as the European Union Delegation among others for standing by the LERC and called for their continued support to sustain the institution.
“Consequently, we make this appeal to the Government of Liberia and our development partners for their continued support to the LERC in order to achieve the stated objectives as outlined in the 2015 Electricity Law of Liberia,” he pleaded.
Responding on behalf of the LEC, Prish Govender, the entity’s Chief Operation Officer (COO) in a proxy, said the LEC over the last three years has experienced a huge growth in its costumer base in the energy sector, something he said has been supported by the transmitter and distribution system, as well as the generation space of the Mt. Coffee Hydro Power station and the Bushrod Island station.
He named commercial loses and the constraints in connecting all consumers as some of the major challenges that effect the financial sustainability of LEC. However, he said that despite the constraints, the future is bright. “With all those challenges, the future remains very positive with the support of the Liberian Government and the support of our consumers based,” he said.
The event attracted several officials and partners from the MCA-L, EU and the Legislature.
The Chairman on the House Committee on Lands, Mines and Energy, Rep. Vincent Willie called pledged the Legislature’s support LEC and called on the corporation to improve its service delivery.
“Now, that you have received the licenses, make use of the opportunity. Make more awareness and once services are offered on time, there will not be power theft,” Rep. Willie admonished.
Monie Captan, CEO Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia and a huge partner of the LERC welcomed the licensing exercise, stating the electricity law of 2015 was a condition precedent for the compact to enter into force that enable to benefit US$257 million grant to invest in the energy sector.
He said after the economic constrain analysis was conducted it was established that the lack of electricity was one of the constraints to economic growth for Liberian businesses.
He added that the law enables a level playing field for private investors in the energy sector because LEC alone cannot not supply the electricity, especially as the country grows in population.
Representing the EU delegation, Ms. Stefania Marrone described the first licensing ceremony and certification of a private operator producing, transmitting and distributing energy as a millstone for energy sectors of Liberia.
She said electricity promotes social and human development for women who have access to a better quality of life, for children, who can benefit from electricity to complete their education and increase security.
She revealed that the EU is currently funding the US$63 million Monrovia Consolidation Electricity project, implemented by the Government of Liberia to provide sustainable and stable electricity to all citizens.
She said the EU believes that the expansion of the electricity sector must be affordable, but for this to happen, a solid private sector is necessary.